February 19, 2010
Kevin Sullivan is the founder of Kevin Sullivan Communications, LLC. He was White House communications director under President George W. Bush, and before that was a communications executive with NBC Universal, NBC Sports and the Dallas Mavericks.
Tiger Woods accomplished what he needed to Friday in order to take the first steps on the road to image recovery. He took full responsibility for his transgressions, his contrition seemed sincere and he talked about specific personal changes he needed to make to live a "life of integrity."
He did not take questions, which was the right thing to do.
However, Woods would have helped himself even further by assuring the media that, at the appropriate time, and certainly before he tees it up again at a PGA Tour event, he will address their questions -- as long as they do not cross a certain line.
He shouldn't be expected to provide the kinds of details that certain, less than respectable, media outlets will seek. But he will have a better chance to put this behind him if he answers the responsible questions at some point. All he needs to do is give the media one opportunity, and then he should be allowed to move on with his recovery, and life.
Woods, though, in expressing his outrage, lumped all the media into one general category and that is not fair. There are plenty of outlets who are not trying to scrounge for every piece of dirt.
Some have suggested that he change the narrative and win back the support of women and, ultimately endorsements, he should do an Oprah Winfrey-style confessional sit-down. By definition those are personal conversations of the nature Tiger told us loud and clear are not going to happen.
Much of the analysis leading up to his statement focused on the level of control Woods exerted over the arrangements, but he was just doing what most public figures only wish they could in a crisis situation: Control the environment so that it best serves his needs.
By filling the room with the friends and associates he most wanted to apologize to, he created a more natural - and supportive - environment for his statement and in a sense deputized a number of potential advocates to serve as an echo chamber for his message.
There are not many athletes who can command the networks to pool their coverage and break into regular programming. Woods can and he was smart to play that hand.
The Tiger Woods narrative isn't going to change much off of Friday's statement. Nor would it change much by sitting down with Larry King, Matt Lauer or Diane Sawyer.
The Tiger Woods narrative will advance when he is back inside the ropes playing the game better than anyone on the planet.